She's Making a Difference

Newly signed law requires hospitals to offer flu vaccines to patients 65 and over

STATE HOUSE — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation introduced by Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) that requires hospitals to offer influenza vaccinations to their inpatients who are 65 and over.

The law (2018-H 7569, 2018-S 2226aa) requires hospitals to offer the vaccinations unless the person has a condition that would not allow such vaccination or if the vaccine is in short supply.

“People 65 and older are the ones who are most adversely affected by influenza,” said Representative Ackerman. “75 to 81 percent of all flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 and over; between 64 and 70 percent of all seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among that same age group.”

The new law requires the policy to be in effect during flu season, between Oct. 1 and March 1 of each year. The vaccine will be offered unless contraindicated, and contingent upon the availability of the vaccine, in accordance with the latest recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This bill aims to reduce influenza-related illness and death,” said Senator Lynch Prata. “This has been an enormous issue this year, and this legislation will improve access to the flu vaccine among those who are most vulnerable to influenza.”